In a letter to President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence Friday, the American Soybean Association (ASA) and a coalition of 15 other farmer organizations called on the incoming administration to protect and enhance the positive impact of agricultural trade on jobs and growth in rural America. The groups also noted the special importance of trading relationships with China, Canada and Mexico, U.S. farmers' and ranchers' first, second and third largest export markets.
"We know that securing positive benefits for American farmers, ranchers, and workers in trade will be a priority in your Administration. This includes enforcing existing agreements so that other countries abide by their commitments, as well as expanding market access for U.S. producers through new agreements. As the Trump Administration assembles its team and policies, U.S. agricultural trade interests must be maintained, not only in existing markets but by expanding access to new markets," wrote the groups. "Existing markets include China, Canada, and Mexico‚Äî U.S. farmers' first, second, and third largest foreign customers. U.S. agricultural exports in FY-2016 were nearly $27 billion to China, over $24 billion to Canada, and nearly $19 billion to Mexico. Disrupting U.S. agricultural exports to these nations would have devastating consequences for our farmers and the many American processing and transportation industries and workers supported by these exports."
The groups further highlighted the significant economic contributions and job creation of the U.S. farm sector, as well as the critical nature of expanding overseas markets for American agricultural products.
"Agriculture and agriculture-related industries contributed $835 billion to the U.S. GDP in 2014, a 4.8 percent share. Our industry employs millions of hard working Americans. In 2014, 17.3 million full and part-time jobs were related to agriculture - about 9.3 percent of total U.S. employment. Food manufacturing accounts for 14 percent of all employees - the largest single sector," wrote the groups in the letter.
"Throughout the campaign, Mr. Trump and Gov. Pence committed to having farmer voices at the table when decisions are made that affect our industry. Nowhere is the potential effect more serious than in our trading relationships and as such we look forward to partnering with the Trump Administration on these issues," said Illinois soybean and corn farmer Ron Moore, who serves as ASA's president. "As we noted in the letter, exports account for more than 60 percent of domestic soybean production, as well as over 70 percent of U.S. production of tree nuts and 50 percent of rice and wheat. As go our trading partnerships, so goes the success of our farm economies."